Hi everyone! This post is the first in a series I will be doing with Love Local Food, highlighting recipes and tips for some of the awesome ingredients in their weekly local food boxes! They are a new company here in the Comox Valley with a passion for supporting local businesses. They offer no contact order and delivery to connect you with some of the amazing food vendors we have in our area.
At first glance, a rutabaga may look less than appealing, and trying to figure out what to do with it may be kind of intimidating. Maybe due to its reputation as a food eaten during times of famine, along with its somewhat strange appearance, the rutabaga is definitely under-appreciated and under-utilized in North America. Once you get past that, rutabagas are actually a tasty and unique vegetable that you can use in lots of different recipes. I’m hoping to convince you to give the humble rutabaga a chance!
So, first of all, what exactly is a rutabaga anyway? Well, it originated as a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Rutabagas belong to the family of cruciferous vegetables, a diverse group including bok choy, broccoli, kale and cabbage. This group of vegetables is known for being rich in phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. The rutabaga is a good source of fibre and vitamin C, and has a milder flavour than the turnip, still with a slight bitter complexity. It is a little bit sweet, a little bit earthy, and very versatile. Known by different names throughout the world, such as “swede” or “yellow turnip,” the rutabaga is commonly used in northern European countries.
I’ve actually grown up eating rutabagas on an annual basis – my mom is Finnish and in that part of the world, rutabagas have earned a place on the Christmas dinner table in a traditional casserole. Here is a recipe for a Finnish rutabaga casserole from Food.com.
If you are wondering what else you can do with rutabaga, here are some ideas. Note: you will want to wash and peel your rutabaga before getting started. I cut off the top and bottom of the rutabaga so I can stand it up and then peel it from top to bottom with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler.
1. Mash them!
Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes? Using rutabaga is a nice way to mix it up and try a bit of a different flavour. Below I’ve linked some recipes from other websites:
- Easy mashed rutabagas (thespruceeats.com)
- Mashed rutabaga with sour cream and dill (simplyrecipes.com)
2. Roast them!
I personally love roasting veggies, and rutabagas are no exception. This cooking method brings out the subtle sweetness and is also nice and easy. You can check out the recipes linked below for some different options – check on your rutabaga as you roast it to get the texture you like. I roast mine until they are nice and light golden brown on the outside and tender inside.
3. Eat them raw!
You actually don’t need to cook rutabagas at all if you don’t want to. You can simply serve them with your favourite dip, or use them as an ingredient in a salad like this one from canadianliving.com.
4. Microwave them!
This is a quick and easy way to cook your rutabaga if you are short on time. I cooked about 2 cups of rutabaga cubes in a microwave-safe dish with around 3 tbsp of water for 8 minutes in the microwave. Your microwave might be different, so again, check on them as they cook to suit your preferences (and give them a stir halfway through). Add salt & pepper to taste.
5. Get creative!
There are all sorts of different ways to use rutabagas. For example, you could make home fries topped with parmesan cheese (hungryenoughtoeatsix.com) or even add them to hummus for an interesting twist (simplebites.net).
Let me know if you tried any of the recipes above and what you thought! What is your favourite way to prepare rutabaga?